Roster of Consultants

Susan Snyder, Ph.D., President, arts education IDEAS, LLC

Sue photoSusan (Sue) Snyder is founder and President of IDEAS: Inventive Designs for Education and the ArtS, LLC (, a company dedicated to facilitating innovative, child-appropriate, arts-integrated education models and programs. She holds a BS and MA in Music Education, a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, an Orff Master Teachers Certificate, and a Cooperative Learning Trainers’ Certificate. Sue has extensively studied topics across disciplines, including arts education, brain compatible learning, creativity, curriculum design, early childhood, literacy/integrated language arts, learning theory, MI, movement, storytelling, multicultural education, social-emotional development, ELL/dual language, and special learners. Shas taught at all levels, Pre-K – post-graduate, including courses at Hunter College and residencies/workshops across the Unites States, Canada, Australia and Lithuania. She is an author of texts and position papers, and has worked in program development, management, research/evaluation, and publishing/media.

Consulting Experience

As a consultant within the arts education community, Susan has collaborated nationwide in the development and dissemination of integrated curriculum initiatives. She informed development of the CT Commission on the Arts’ HOT (Higher Order Thinking) Schools program, the Mississippi Whole Schools Program with CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnership for Education), Liz Lerman and others; the Leonard Bernstein Artful Learning Program with the Grammy Foundation, Carnegie Hall Education’s Musical Explorers program, the Young Audiences Arts 4 Learning Program, Bridgeport MACH (Music and Arts Center for Humanity) Programming in conjunction with Wolf Trap and Ailey Dance, ABCD (Action for Bridgeport Community Development anti-poverty agency) and the Bridgeport, CT Public Schools with Child FIRST and others. Additionally, she has been involved in ground-breaking initiatives in Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Iowa, Texas, California and Alaska. She held a two-year appointment as Scholar-in-Residence for the CT State Department of Education BEST (Beginning Educator Support and Testing) program.

As an educational consultant to the media industry, Susan has worked with Children’s Television Workshop, Disney, Cookie Jar, and was a consultant on the Ready to Learn Partnership’s 2005 evaluation team, a media-literacy for young children initiative designed to help reduce the achievement gap, funded by the US Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. She was senior curriculum consultant for the US Department of Education’s Ready to Learn 2010 media Grant – Project LAMP (Learning Apps Media Partnership) with Callaway Digital Arts and HITN, developing media platforms and products to build cognitive capacity and school readiness for success. She has also worked on the proposal writing and evaluation side of grants.

Susan worked with PBS, the US Department of Education, and the Michael Cohen Group to plan and facilitate the 2006 Ready to Learn Conference in Washington, D.C., engaging and preparing educational and media thought-leaders. She was invited and represented arts education IDEAS at the First WISE Foundation Colloquium in Qatar in 2009 as one of 1000 international educational innovation leaders, and returned as an invited guest to the 2010 WISE Symposium.


Susan is a senior author for McGraw-Hill Education, collaborating to develop three basal textbook series with ancillary properties, the most recent of which is offered in an extensive digital, multi-media platform. She has also self-published several multi-media publications that promote multisensory, arts-integrated teaching and learning from early childhood through work with older adults. Her work targets at-risk and different learners, particularly in urban settings and low socioeconomic communities and schools, using the arts as tools for reducing achievement and cultural gaps, delivering arts skills and understandings, classroom content, social emotional learning, and critical & creative thinking.

Building on her storytelling and oral history skills, Susan published her first novel in 2012 with co-author Mahru Ghashghaei: Nine Rubies: Broken Silence of a Daughter of Revolutionary Iran – a memoir over 20 years in the making.

Sue continues to work with children and their grownups through teaching Music Together classes.  See or for further information.

Contact information:
Susan R. Snyder, Ph.D.
President, arts education IDEAS, LLC
(914) 325-2074


Margaret Campbelle-Holman

Coming soon!

Michael Cohen

Michael CohenDr. Michael Cohen is a developmental psychologist and the President of the Michael Cohen Group LLC (MCG) headquartered in New York City. Dr. Cohen and MCG are known internationally as a provider of scientific evaluations, assessment, and applied research with children, families, education and media.

Presently, Dr. Cohen is serving as the Principal Investigator for two U.S. Department of Education Ready to Learn Media Grants, focused on the use of media to engender disadvantaged children’s early literacy acquisition. Dr. Cohen also serves as the Principal Investigator for a multi-year evaluation of the integration of new pedagogy and services, Total Learning, in the Bridgeport, Connecticut Public School System.

In the aftermath of the September 11th, Dr. Cohen served as communications consultant to Mayor Giuliani and chief consultant to the NYC Department of Education. Dr. Cohen was the principal investigator of the Needs Assessment study conducted on behalf of the New York City Board of Education to measure the impact of the World Trade Center disaster on New York City public school students’ mental health. Dr. Cohen serves on many advisory boards.

Dr. Cohen’s interests lie in children’s issues, especially in areas of education, entertainment, health, and general wellbeing. He has conducted research on behalf of the US Department of Education, the NYC Department of Education, and his clients include companies such as Nickelodeon, College Board, PBS, Sesame Workshop, and Noggin. He taught at the Yale School of management and the Children’s Study Center at City University of New York (CUNY). He holds a Ph.D. in psychology from The Graduate Center City University of New York.

Vickie Hester

Vickie HesterVickie Hester, PhD assisted Dallas ISD with implementing Total Learning in its pilot arts-infused elementary school learning program. Through these innovative, multi-modal lessons, at-risk students showed significant gains. Dr. Hester advocates for arts-infused teaching and learning in colleges, districts, and educational organizations across the Southwest.

Dr. Hester currently serves Paul Quinn College students as a professor in the Education Department. In preparing the next generation of teachers, Dr. Hester assists pre-service teachers in understanding the value of and in implementing multi-modal delivery of instruction through the engaging lens of the arts. Dr. Hester has authored several best-selling test preparation manuals and teaches seminars for test preparation for the TExES teacher examination across the state.

A graduate of Western Governor’s University, Dr. Hester holds advanced degrees in Education and Curriculum Design. In addition to serving the students of Paul Quinn College, she served as a writer of the new Fine Arts TEKS, an invited testifier to the State Board of Education, and a cadre member/trainer for the Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts (CEDFA). Dr. Hester has written curriculum for Region 10, Dallas ISD and other districts and universities across the state, and has many published works.

She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education; Texas Art Education Association; Dallas Art Education Association; and the Collin County Department of Homeland Security, First Responders, Medical Reserve Corps. She has been honored to receive the Core Believers Award, presented for teaching that models the highest quality teaching and learning.

Mary E. Knysh

maryknishMary lives the IDEAS philosophy every day in her work. She has consulted for several Total Learning implementations, and has contributed to several IDEAS publications. IDEAS and Rhythmic Connections collaborated to create Mary’s Drumming and Storytelling DVD.

Mary is the founder of Rhythmic Connections, an innovative company advancing education, health, and creative development through drum circles and music improvisation. Mary is a cutting edge workshop facilitator and trainer; creativity, leadership and communications consultant; professional musician; recording artist and author. She presents at conferences throughout the United States, Central Europe, Australia and Asia. An international teacher/trainer with the Music for People organization, Mary is also an Orff Schulwerk clinician and teaching artist for the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, Young Audiences of NJ, and New York BOCES.

Elaine Larson

AK advantageElaine Larson’s career spans over thirty years as a music educator, workshop presenter, and writer. A recognized expert in Orff, Elaine has taught numerous workshops and courses for teachers, including presentations at local and national Orff conferences, various schools and universities in Alaska and the US, and internationally for the Hong Kong Orff Schulwerk Association. In 2004, she helped to create Kaleidoscope School for Arts and Science in Kenai, Alaska, a school based on the philosophy of Total Learning and integrated curriculum.

Elaine resides in Alaska, where she writes for Total Learning Digital, mentors elementary music teachers, and teaches workshops and summer courses in Orff, and the integration of music, movement and language arts.

Allison Logan

allisonAllison holds a BS-ED in music education in 1994 from Central Connecticut State University and a Master’s Degree from CCSU and Walden University in Special Education. She was an elementary music teacher, and wrote grants and implemented model arts-infused curriculum in schools. She also developed and implemented the HOT Readers Program at Lyman School in Middlefield, CT, building literacy through infusing the arts, leading to National recognition through the IRA RETA (Reading Excellence Through the Arts) SIG Outstanding Program Award in 1999.

Allison has been a contributing writer and editor for products, and co-developer of the Total Literacy and Total Learning approaches. She has expertise in curriculum development and implementation within a wide range of contexts, creating multi-modal and scaffolded designs to reach all learners, and underserved populations in particular. She has been a Total Learning master teacher and trainer, and has been instrumental in the development of Total Learning Digital.

Allison is currently Director of Educational Initiatives for Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc. (ABCD), where she manages and implements the Bridgeport Total Learning Initiative, coordinates communications with the Bridgeport Board of Education, consults for the Head Start programs, and is the liaison between the community agency and the public schools.

Maritsa Madias-Kalasz

madias kalaszMaritsa has joyfully taught vocal music in the Dearborn, Michigan Public Schools for the past 30 years. She has implemented Total Learning in her elementary school for the past several years, bringing Total Learning to music classrooms, general education classrooms and special needs students with great success. She is currently implementing Total Learning K-4 in her building, and creating lessons for 5th graders that support the classroom curriculum. She has worked with the aeIDEAS team since 1999, and is a certified teacher trainer for the Total Learning Institute. Maritsa is available to provide professional development and consultation in all the aspects of Total Learning, and can help you bring thoughtful and creative ideas to life!

Lisa Meyer

Lisa MeyerLisa Meyer is an extraordinary educator with a questioning mind. She asks probing questions, and thinks deeply. She has been an educator for 27 years, and taught a variety of ages, ranging from kindergarten through higher education. For the past eighteen years, Lisa has served as the Music Resource Teacher for the Dearborn Public Schools. In that time, Dearborn has been recognized seven times as one of the best communities for music education in the Untied States. Lisa holds an undergraduate degree in music education from Eastern Michigan University, a Masters degree in elementary education from Wayne State University, and an Ed Specialist degree in Administration/Education Leadership from Oakland University. In addition to her work with the Dearborn schools, Lisa also teaches in the Music Education Department at Wayne State University. Lisa has learned Total Learning from the ground up as a teacher, administrator and trainer. She is a trusted advisor and excellent presenter.

Gerad O’Shea

Gerad O'Shea portrait copyGerad O’Shea is a Research Director and Statistics Coordinator at Michael Cohen Group, LLC. He leads formative and summative research to support the development of educational content and evaluate programs and interventions, including Total Learning. He has previously directed research that has developed and evaluated nutrition curriculum for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services, interactive television episodes for Nickelodeon, and touchscreen apps for the Department of Education. Gerad graduated from Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education, and received an M.A. in Applied Psychology from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at NYU, supported by the Monroe Stein Memorial Scholarship. Prior to entering the field of applied psychology, Gerad was the assistant band director at the Boston Arts Academy and founded Four Square Records in Boston, MA.

Michael Rixon

rixon portraitA producer, writer, and director, Michael has been involved in the multimedia and communications industries for over 35 years, including a 10-year stint when he was responsible for all multimedia design and production at Bombardier Aerospace. He then founded Michael Rixon Productions where he produced thousands of sales, marketing and learning programs for a wide variety of clients. In 2001, he joined with Neil Smolar to found NDi Media where he has produced projects for MD Anderson, Bombardier Aerospace, National Geographic, and Scholastic among many others. During his 10 years at NDi Media, Michal has developed an expertise in preschool interactive projects. Among the projects he has had a leading role in are Wumpa’s World (3 seasons), Mama Mirabelle, Knowledge Kids, and Minimops. Michael also authored the NDi white paper on preschool kids and their use of interactivity.

Michael is currently responsible for the overall development and design of the Total Learning Digital platform. “I look forward to working with this amazing program and helping to implement initiatives throughout the education world”.